Aug 302016

Gene Wilder – Willy Wonka - Dead at 83

Gene Wilder succumbed to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He died earlier this month but his death was announced by the family, today.

Gene Wilder was one of the greatest comedic actors in Hollywood. His unique neurotic persona, make-believe toughness and genuine vulnerability perhaps shone best in his projects with Mel Brooks. The talented actor with curly hair and piercing blue eyes is well remembered for his roles in The Producers, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, The Woman in Red (which he has written, produced and had an acting role in) and many other films.

Gene Wilder is also remembered as the husband of the brilliant comedienne Gilda Radner (best known as the star of Saturday Night Live). She was his third wife and Gene has proven his character as a husband and a human being throughout her brave battle with cancer. Gilda Radner didn’t survive but Wilder’s fight with cancer didn’t end with her death. He founded Gilda Radner Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founded a cancer support group, Gilda’s Club.

During his career Wilder was twice nominated for an Oscar, twice nominated for the Golden Globes and awarded Primetime Emmy Award and other professional recognitions.

Before making a full time commitment to a career as a novelist, Gene Wilder stated: “I don’t like show business, I realized, I like show, but I don’t like the business.”
He blessed us with “the show”: his performances are rich, usually joyous and always entertaining. His personal trials and tribulations aside, Wilder’s professional legacy is one of joy and laughter and as every actor will tell you, comedy is the hardest part of the craft to master. Gene Wilder was a master of comedy, he created his own “brand” of comedy, if you will.

Gene has earned respect and recognition of his Hollywood peers. He is fondly remembered by Jim Carrey, Mel Brooks, Billy Crystal, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing and many others.

Gene Wilder is survived by his 4th wife Karen Boyer, an adopted daughter – from his marriage with Mary Joan Schutz – and a nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman whom Wilder considered his substitute son.

Every death is a loss and every loss is sad. In the case of Gene Wilder, he knew up till the end that he was loved and appreciated. He left behind precious memories of joy that will last forever. Thank you and rest in peace Mr. Wilder.

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Entertainment Editor / I. Sturm